Guest: Chris Cillizza, Margaret Carlson
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?His motorcade SUV gets a flat tire. His running mate‘s media bus breaks down on the highway. A campaign event gets postponed by rain. One of his advisers calls Sarah Palin a, quote, “whack job.” Pew Research says he has gone from a “collective up seven” to a “collective down four” in 10 2004 Bush red states: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, (AUDIO BREAK), Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia and he‘s behind in each of them. And now, Governor Charlie Crist of Florida has extended early voting hours there from eight hours a day to 12. A top Florida Republican says, “He just blew Florida for John McCain.” What could the GOP nominee possibly say after a disastrous day such as this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, no one will delay the World Series game with an info commercial when I‘m president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes, actually, they‘re not delaying the game for the Obama broadcast. They‘re simply eliminating the pre-game show and that‘s according to FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain‘s ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy towards a cliff. And now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes, well, he can‘t. His SUV has a flat tire. So what now? Senate, House? President Bush visited RNC headquarters today for a pep talk. No, giving one, not getting one. No video, so it‘s President Bush visited RNC headquarters puppet theater. Worst: More from Billo and threat of the international conspiracy to fix the ratings, the only possible reason we‘ve been the number the one show in cable news now for the last 10 nights and he hasn‘t. And tonight‘s Campaign Comment. Governor Palin goes so far around the bend that she meets herself coming back the other way. Obama‘s a socialist, a share the wealth-er, maybe a communist. The governor has evidently forgotten—so is she. All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am Joe Mama.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Tuesday, October 28th, seven days until the 2008 presidential election. The only metaphor that might possibly be more apt it had been that Senator McCain‘s car had ran out of gas. Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Instead, the vehicle that the Republican nominee had been riding in this afternoon got a flat tire while the bus carrying the reporters who cover Governor Palin broke down on the side of the road. Never mind, the McCain campaign‘s ability to deal with weather. Because it was raining in Pennsylvania, the Republican ticket cancelled an outdoor joint event in Quakertown all together. I‘m not talking a hurricane, merely that they would have gotten wet. The Phillies and Rays they ain‘t. Senator McCain is now trailing, albeit narrowly in the 10 so-called red states, each of which voted for President Bush four years ago. According to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center, Senator Obama leading by four points in the 2004 Republican states of Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. Last week, Senator McCain having enjoyed a seven-point lead in those 10 states, the week before it had been McCain by 10, margin of error on all those numbers plus or minus six. In the Hotline Poll, 17 percent of those surveyed having already voted in the states that have early voting, among them, the candidates are virtually tied: Obama, 48; McCain, 47. Senator Biden, meanwhile, is picking up the pace with multiple appearances in battleground of Florida. At a horse farm, the Democratic running mate going with a thorough bred racing metaphor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It‘s great to be here with you all, in a county that has produced a Triple Crown winner, Affirmed. And I think Florida is going to produce another winner again here—because how you go goes the nation in all probability. You know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The last Democratic winner winning in Florida—President Clinton making plans now to join Senator Obama for joint events there later this week. Some Republicans declaring the Sunshine State already lost. Florida Governor Crist, a Republican, obviously, once on the McCain short list for V.P., today, extending early voting there to 12 hours a day from eight, in order to meet demand. One plugged-in Republican telling Politico‘s Ben Smith, quote, “He just blew Florida for John McCain.” Crist is saying today, quote, “This is not a political decision. This is a people decision.” Meanwhile, 9,000 showing up, people, that is, to see the top of the Democratic ticket outside Philadelphia in spite of the rain that continued there. Senator Obama in jeans, sneakers and a rain jacket saying, “What‘s a little rain when the White House is at stake?”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In this last week, we cannot afford to slow down or to sit back or to let up, whether it‘s rain or sleet or snow, we are going to go out and we are going to vote because it‘s too much at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meantime, warm and dry indoors at Hershey, PA., Senator McCain claiming victory in that blue state battleground of Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: My friends, it‘s wonderful to be back in Pennsylvania. And it‘s wonderful to fool the pundits because we‘re going to win the state of Pennsylvania. We‘re going to win it on November 4th. You‘re going to get out to vote and we‘re going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It‘s pundits. The Republican with a new twist on his effort to label his opponent a socialist because of the phrase “spread the wealth,” Senator McCain making it sounds as if he would be abolishing the tax system all together himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Senator Obama is running to be redistribution-in-chief—I‘m running to be commander-in-chief. Senator Obama is running to spread the wealth—I‘m running to create wealth. Senator Obama is running to punish the successful—I‘m running to make everyone successful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In what will not be described as a success for the McCain campaign this morning, his economic adviser, Douglas Holtz “BlackBerry” Eakin admitting in a conference call with reporters that the health insurance people currently get from their employers is, quote, “way better than the healthcare they would get during a McCain administration.” At an afternoon stop in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the last Democrat to campaign for president was Steven Douglas, Senator Obama seized on Holtz-Eakin‘s admission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is the point I‘ve been making since Senator McCain unveiled his plan. It took until the last seven days of this election for his campaign to finally admit the truth—but better late than never.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Time now to call on our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine, joining us tonight from Chicago where he has been covering Obama headquarters. Good evening, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The McCain side of things first, why cancel an event even if it‘s raining when you‘re behind with only one week left to go, even if you think that you‘re going to get this miracle victory in that pivotal state of Pennsylvania?
FINEMAN: Well, Keith, maybe I didn‘t ask the McCain campaign in time but I didn‘t get a response as of air time. And it‘s doubly mystifying because John McCain seems to have an almost mystical faith in Pennsylvania. As you pointed out, it‘s the one blue state where he‘s campaigning and campaigning hard, in hopes of taking one away from Obama. But I‘ve spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania, not counting the Phillies game the other day, and, you know, it seems pretty solidly in the Democratic camp. I think there‘s going to be a big turnout for Obama in Philly and Pittsburgh. It‘s going to be very hard for McCain to win. But McCain is working the rural areas and the smaller towns. He needed that appearance today it seems to me.
OLBERMANN: At least you got to see a game that had a final score. This line and I have to read it off the paper because I can barely pronounce this word, “redistributionist-in-chief,” this attack from McCain. What‘s the alternative to being a redistributionist? Do you have to throw away the Constitution? The idea of federal government and the budget process all together so no money is redistributed at all?
OLBERMANN: Or did the economic collapse already do that for Senator McCain?
FINEMAN: Yes. Well, the fact is, a lot of what the Congress and the federal government does is redistribution. They‘re winners and losers all the time. That‘s what I cover in Congress when I‘m not on the presidential campaign trail. But what McCain is doing is trying to use the big tax-and-spend liberal label on the Democrat, just as Republicans have done for decades if not generations. But Barack Obama has been very shrewd from the beginning of this campaign going back to the launch almost two years ago, crafting a plan that talks about tax cuts for most Americans, 90 percent to 95 percent of the American people. And if you look at the polls, Keith, Obama has sold that pretty successfully. And if John McCain was going to make this the issue of the campaign, he needed to have done it months ago. The fact that he‘s coming to it this late doesn‘t help him any. But I can tell you that the Obama people are concerned. They are repeating their ads about how Obama wants to cut taxes. When Obama gives his half-hour information special on Wednesday night, he‘s going to talk a lot about taxes and tax cuts. And the Obama campaign is not eager to highlight the likelihood that the Democrats are going to get huge new majorities in the House and the Senate because to some Americans, some swing voters, especially those so-called “soft Republicans” who are left to be gotten; they don‘t like the idea of a big, big overwhelmingly Democratic majority in Congress. Obama doesn‘t mention on the stump most of the time.
OLBERMANN: What are the reactions in both camps to stuff like the Hotline Poll that came out of early voters that it‘s—a one-point margin? Is that expected? Does that have anything to do with early voting? Should we expect the race itself, as a whole, to tighten and to tighten to that degree?
FINEMAN: Well, in talking to the Obama people today, they do expect the race to tighten some. But now is when you look at the Electoral College, not just the horse race numbers, I think the early voting is an interesting question. Traditionally, Keith, when we used to call them absentee ballots—absentee ballots weighted heavily Republican because Republicans were more systematic and voted earlier. The Democrats typically show up late and keep the polls in the big cities for them to vote late. I think that‘s changed some because Obama‘s focused on early voting. And the Obama people I talked to today were very happy about the fact that Governor Crist in Florida had decided to extend early voting. I think it does indicate it‘s going to be a closer race in pure horse race numbers than some of the polls have shown. As one Obama guy said to me today, “Look, McCain is not going to end up with 42 percent, it‘s going to be a lot higher than that.”
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, in Chicago for us. If you stay there long enough, a World Series game will probably come your way because they‘re going to watch out every else. Thank you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Another reason why Senator McCain might not want to cancel events because of rain. His campaign is seemingly being swamped by the Obama campaign in the home stretch on virtually every front. Obama moves from Pennsylvania to Virginia while Biden is in Florida. Michelle Obama was campaigning in Nevada. Senator Hillary Clinton was in New Hampshire. Late night tomorrow in Kissimmee, Florida, it would be former President Clinton with Senator Obama for a stadium-size rally. Then President Clinton will campaign in Ohio on Thursday. The Obama campaign‘s financial and volunteer resources continuing to overwhelm the McCain camp in the battleground states. Florida, again, a perfect example of this: 100 Obama field offices, 79 for McCain; 400 staffers, 40 for McCain. Outspending McCain in advertising is Obama by a four to one margin. The former Florida Republican Chairman Al Cardenas saying, quote, “It‘s tough to make up territory when the other guys are just obliterating you on the airwaves.” This in the state that was supposedly safe for McCain not very long ago. As for that half hour, Obama advertisement airing tomorrow night a spokesman says the program will share specifics of the senator‘s plan for the economy but Michelle Obama was more than happy to share some laughs on that subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”/NBC)
MICHELLE OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA‘S WIFE: I don‘t know what they‘re calling it but he‘s all over the place. But he‘s describing this to my mother. We‘re at the kitchen table and Malia sort of overhears it. She‘s 10. She says, “You‘re going to be on all the TV?” She said, “Are you going to interrupt my TV?”
OBAMA: And he said, he sitting like he says, “No, we didn‘t buy time on Disney and Nick” and she said, “Oh, good.” And she got up and walked away.
OBAMA: She just like—don‘t mess with my TV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: No (ph), she‘s going to mess with my TV.
Let‘s bring in “Washington Post” associate editor and columnist, MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson.
Good evening, Gene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. This word has been thrown around a lot in the last week and it bothers me. So, there‘s a two-part question on this. Is the Obama campaign a juggernaut? And do juggernauts always win or do juggernauts sometimes get upset?
ROBINSON: Well, I have to confess that I think I used that word in my column this morning talking about the Obama ground game.
ROBINSON: However, look—juggernauts don‘t always win. No, they sometimes get upset. But if you can have 400 staff people, paid staff people, who are actually doing something productive in a place where the other side has 40, you have an advantage. If you can outspend the other side four to one in advertising, you have an advantage. And there‘s just no way around that. That doesn‘t necessarily mean you‘re going to win but it means—it makes it a lot tougher for the other side.
OLBERMANN: The ground game to which you refer, getting people to the polls early, particularly the so called “erratic voters.” The Obama campaign aides believe they are accomplishing that goal. Might we be talking a great deal about that on election night? People who are not just getting an assist to the polls but getting there literally in circumstances under which they never would have gotten there otherwise?
ROBINSON: I think we will talk about that a lot on election night. We—that Hotline Poll was interesting, showing that parody in the early voting. What we don‘t know, and I haven‘t actually looked at the closely at the numbers, but I suspect they don‘t tell us—are these the erratic voters? Are these the people who are not being picked up in the “likely voter” screens of the polls? Anecdotally, what I hear from folks just around the country is that where there‘s early voting permitted, there are a lot of early voters. It looks like there‘s a lot of Obama voters lining up in places like South Carolina and states that probably won‘t go to him but do indicate that the ground game is out there working.
OLBERMANN: And, again, as you suggest, there are two. Geography is telling so much of this story. That Pew Poll that had Obama up a collective four points in the red battleground state that he‘d been far behind last week, and farther behind the week before, Biden was in some Republican strongholds in Florida today—even the Republican strategists concede, even if McCain winds up winning Florida, the price will have been extraordinarily high in terms of time and money. The geography here is, it sounds like that, you know, one of those board games. You wound up with all your missiles and everything else on Madagascar.
ROBINSON: That‘s what‘s really daunting for the McCain campaign. That‘s the real mountain for them to climb. If you look not just at the Pew Poll but other polls, as, you know, recent Rasmussen Poll, I think, yesterday, Obama up four in Colorado, up four in Florida, up four in Ohio, up four in Virginia. There are other polls that show even bigger Obama advantages in New Hampshire and in other states, and even a tie in North Carolina. Now, Obama doesn‘t have to win all these states to get an electoral majority, but these are red states. These are George Bush states. States that Bush won and McCain has to win all of them. The polls are trending against him in all of them. That‘s a real mountain that he has to try to get over.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, against all this as backdrop, what does Obama shoot for in the half hour ad tomorrow night which we know is pretty much done already?
ROBINSON: Message? I‘m safe. I think that‘s what he intends to convey. All this business about redistributors or redistributionist—excuse me—in-chief, it seems to be part of this McCain attempt to raise doubt about Obama. To say, he‘s risky, we don‘t really know him. He‘s an unknown quantity. That seems to be the strategy toward the end and I think what Obama is going to try to do is what he‘s tried to do all along—reassure people, I‘m not some sort of exotic socialist who‘s bent on taking all your money and, you know, giving it to the international or something. I‘m a regular guy and I‘m going to cut taxes for the middle class. I suspect that‘s what he‘ll say and that will be the tone of the speech.
OLBERMANN: I know Gene Debs and Senator Obama. You are no Gene Debs. Gene Robinson of MSNBC and “Washington Post,” thank you kindly, as always, sir.
ROBINSON: Good to talk to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Programming note, Senator Obama is, as he once promised not to do, messing up the COUNTDOWN tomorrow night—liberal politicians. MSNBC will air the Obama campaign commercial at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, when it is over, we‘ll have live analysis of the ad, its potential impact on the race, and a brief survey of the rest of the day‘s news and then we‘ll be back with a live—alright, we‘ll try this in English—a live late-night edition of COUNTDOWN at 10:00 Eastern. You can tell how happy I will be to be here live at 10:00 o‘clock for the complete wrap of all the day‘s campaign headlines. Sarah Palin in 2012? OK. But don‘t you want to see how 2008 turns out first, even the down ticket races? And tonight‘s Campaign Comment: The problem with Governor Palin‘s closing argument against the promises of Barack Obama is that she‘s already done some of the things she‘s accusing him of promising to do? Who said “spread the wealth”?
OLBERMANN: Yesterday, somebody called Sarah Palin a diva. Today, the term was “whack job.” Those are both from colleagues inside the McCain campaign, others seeing her as a presidential candidate in 2012. (INAUDIBLE).
Also tonight: Comedian Rush Limbaugh goes pro-slavery. Billo the Clown just goes and back in the glass house throwing the socialist stones Governor Palin in tonight‘s Campaign Comment.
All ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: She abused her power as governor, charged the taxpayers a per diem for 30 nights she spent at home, charged the state for flying her kids to events to which they had not been invited, and had a witch hunter pray for her in church. Yet against the backdrop of these negatives, Sarah Palin may be preparing a run for the presidency in 2012. In our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN: Whether McCain or Palin win or lose on Tuesday, conservatives are embracing Palin for giving them hope and, quote, “something to believe in.” Greg Mueller, a senior aide in the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan and Steve Fords, telling Politico.com, that Palin, quote, “has absolutely earned a right to run in 2012.” And assuming a Republican win next week, quote, “If McCain decides to serve for just one term, Sarah Palin as the economic populist and traditional American values candidate, will be very appealing by the time we get to 2012.” If we get to 2012 -- you mean, “if.” In the short term, the newest negative on the governor including her refuted roguish behavior and previous accusations of divadom, a top unnamed McCain advisor saying, telling Politico that they could quote him but not name him. He thereupon called her, quote, “a whack job.” I‘m joined now by Margaret Carlson., political columnist with “Bloomberg News” and Washington editor of “The Week” magazine. Good evening, Margaret.
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Hello, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A whack job. Somebody in the McCain campaign called her that? Is it—you‘re wondering now, aren‘t you that whether or not they‘re trying this to win this election, but, in fact, whether or not they‘re also sort of giving away 2012 as well?
CARLSON: Well, the language has changed. It‘s gone from rogue to diva. There were about three people who used diva and now it‘s descended to whack job. It‘s hard to imagine what‘s next. But you‘ll notice that nobody is blaming McCain for choosing her. It‘s all about Sarah Palin at this point. Soon, we‘ll move on to it‘s all about McCain. But for now it‘s safer for the McCain people to dump on her. And it‘s well-deserved. That round-up you gave is about a third of what was learned after a vetting was done of Sarah Palin, the vetting that John McCain didn‘t do. We know a lot more about her than he ever did.
OLBERMANN: Is—this concept, though, among the harsher conservatives that she‘s the future of the GOP—is that an accurate description or might it be closer to last survivor or what would it be?
CARLSON: Well, you know, the last one, please turn out the lights.
CARLSON: She—if the party is as broken as it seems to be right now, she is one person standing. But whether she gets blamed, you know, we‘ll see. It looks like she‘s going to take a lot of the blame, at least from the McCain people who don‘t want it on themselves. You know, the party is going to have years in the wilderness. They‘re going to have to choose who are they? Are they—are they going to be able to pull off, ever again, the Wall Street and the elites getting the “Elmer Gantry,” populist, evangelical wing of the party to vote for them? I wonder after this financial meltdown and where people are if that‘s ever going to work again. If the populist evangelical group gets a hold of the party, Palin could well be the representative of that. I doubt that after this go-around that that‘s going to happen.
OLBERMANN: What does it say about the state of the race that a week before the election this is, perhaps, the secondary or tertiary topic of conversation about the Republican Party? And just as a sort of science fiction scenario, not the outcome of the election, but what would happen if this Republican Party and this team won next Tuesday? Would this schism be there on January 20th next year for a President McCain and Vice President Palin?
CARLSON: Well, victory tends to heal a lot of wounds. However, if the White House were run the way the campaign were run, that would be very bad for the country. Just the way McCain tried to run the financial crisis on the bailout bill, these were not good moments for him and this does not bode well. George Will called it operatic behavior. The idea of Sarah Palin being close to the presidency after her performance, because, remember, we didn‘t know anything about her. She started high, she‘s come down low. You know, the immediate reason for having her worked for John McCain, he got some crowds that wasn‘t quite as sad (ph) a campaign. But, boy, did he pay a price for this. And the next stage is going to be the blaming of McCain for choosing Sarah Palin. And if Sarah Palin comes out of this as anything, I think she‘ll go back to Alaska. She might get reelected. But remember, the Anchorage—the papers up there are not pro-Sarah Palin. She‘s been vetted in a way she wasn‘t before she had the vice-presidential nomination. She‘s in favor of—she hadn‘t called for Ted Stevens to step aside. She is part of Alaska oil politics that means maybe she doesn‘t get reelected. But I see her as a game show host. I do not see her as a presidential candidate.
OLBERMANN: I think there are a couple things on TV she might do before a game but she‘ll—yes. She probably gets—maybe she should go to sports center. She‘ll probably get her wish. Margaret Carlson of “Bloomberg News,” thanks you, Margaret.
CARLSON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, imagine the governor‘s surprise when she went to see the senator and he made her stand there in the back holding the pom-pom in the crowd. Something is being wrong here. We‘ll explain it presently. And Billo the Clown again explains the great conspiracy to rob him of his rightful ratings. I believe he‘s now dragged President Lincoln‘s Secretary of War Edwin Stanton into this. Worst Person is ahead.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Membrane in a moment and the sad saga of Joe Mama. First on this date in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated by Grover Cleveland and celebrated by the first ever ticker tape parade in new York city. They didn‘t have the process down yet. They used only one piece of confetti which was thrown out a window and located by a volunteer and then take up and thrown out the next window, et cetera. All right. I made that up. Let‘s play “Oddball.” We begin in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where Halloween appears to have begun early. Observe that woman to John McCain‘s left, the camera right, just over his shoulder. She look familiar at all? Yeah.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She has inspired millions of Americans with her record of reform, with her family. With her -- with the greatness and strength of her character and thank you for your support of Sarah Palin as well. I‘m very grateful for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Just like the real thing, minus the $13,000 worth of makeup and the $150,000 wardrobe. In Naples, Florida, thanks to an enterprising manicurist, Christiane Lawson, you can get your nails painted to look like a presidential candidate. For just 25 bucks you can pick your nose with Palin, scratch your butt with Biden or give your finger as you see there to McCain. So, maybe the Republican focus is on the House and Senate now so President Bush offered to help. How do you mean, help, exactly? You knew this had to happen. Sarah Palin rips Obama for wanting to do something she‘s already done. Tonight‘s “Campaign Comment” but first, the most outrageous or untrue thing said by or on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee, “McCain in the Membrane.” Save the dialect jokes for crusty the clown. Speaking yesterday in Virginia in Leesburg, Governor Palin rattled off a list of variations on Joe the Plumber.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We saw posters recently say Doug, the Barber. Christine the Florist and Cindy the Citizen. And we‘ve got Joe the Plumber‘s son. Jack the Hunter. Vickie the Realtor. One of my favorites last night was “I am Joe Mama.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All right, mock Mexican, Puerto Rican or other Hispanic accents are probably not good if you hope to get elected now matter how uniformly pale the people at your rallies might be. But considering how rapidly the governor and her running mate are losing what might have once been a lead among Hispanic voters that was probably the last nail in the GOP coffin and as usual it‘s the governor holding the nail gun herself.
OLBERMANN: Ronald Reagan used to contend half jokingly that the scariest words in the English language were, “Hi, I‘m from the government and I‘m here to help.” Tonight on our third story, a new permutation even more terrifying for the foundering Republican Party. “Hi, I‘m President Bush and I‘m here to help.” Mr. Bush spent about 20 minutes at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington thanking a couple of hundred staffers for their help in making his presidency possible and their work in trying to make a McCain presidency possible. All of this of course behind closed doors because Mr. Bush does not want to remind voters that people trying to give us four more years of John McCain are the same folks who gave us the last eight years. And given how the down ticket races for House and Senate are going we have to wonder whether Republicans other than McCain, other candidates and their staff are worried about the Bush effect. But because we have no cameras we must hearken back to our alternative means of covering such events, President Bush Visits Republican National Headquarters Puppet Theater.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUPPET GEORGE W. BUSH: Hi!
PUPPET REPUBLICAN CROWD: (Screaming)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So which three dimensional Republicans are running scared? Their ranks include even red state Republican standard bearers, obviously the convicted felon now, Ted Stevens of Alaska, trouble, but also North Carolina Senator Liddy Dole, trouble, going into her own pocket to fund a struggling campaign. Georgia‘s Saxby Chambliss, trouble, fighting off karma after his vile win in 2002 and even Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, trouble, in danger of losing in Kentucky. And Norm Coleman, trouble, running as a moderate in Minnesota but still running slightly behind somebody who used to be an actual comedian. To look a little more closely down ticket let‘s bring in Chris Cillizza, who of course writes “The Fix” for washingtonpost.com. Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Good evening, Keith. Interesting fact. I was an excellent finger puppeteer as a child?
OLBERMANN: We might have some additional per diem work for you if you just talk to your agent about.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s put some of the races in context here. Liddy Dole in North Carolina. The Republican leader in the Senate in trouble in Kentucky. How is this happening? Does this main line back to President Bush? Or is it McCain or what is it?
CILLIZZA: It‘s a lot of things. I think in Kentucky it‘s primarily the economy. Democrats had hoped that they could get Mitch McConnell. He‘s the leader of the party. I think he counts as about three in the minds of Democrats to beat him but they hadn‘t gotten much traction until this economic crisis. Right now you‘re looking at a close race. There are other ones where I think circumstances are - to be honest in North Carolina, bush has not helped. I think McCain tore competitiveness of Barack Obama in the state has not helped. But Liddy Dole, according to newspaper reports in the state, spent 33 days in the state in 2005 and 2006. That‘s the big problem. It‘s not Bush. It‘s not McCain. It‘s not Obama. It‘s 33 days in the state for a sitting U.S. senator.
OLBERMANN: We just joked about the Bush effect but Republicans are, indeed, running away from the president. How does an incumbent in any Senate office or any House office, who at any point slapped George Bush‘s back, now pretend he had nothing to do with him?
CILLIZZA: It‘s hard. Keith, remember, especially in the Senate it runs in six-year cycles so these people up right now were up in 2002, a very different political environment when everyone was scrambling to have George Bush at their campaign events. George Bush said, would tour around the country to get these people elected. You mentioned Norm Coleman earlier, perfect example. Norm Coleman was recruited into the race by Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. They pushed Tim Pawlenty out of the race, the governor of Minnesota to get Norm Coleman in so it‘s hard six years later to make the case. I‘m an independent. George Bush and I disagree on many things. He is trying, but again, people have long memories in politics and they remember six years ago he was saying the exact opposite.
OLBERMANN: Mitt Romney is new to the ranks of the Republicans arguing that Obama has already iced this so the Republicans ought to concentrate on this message. Voters should make sure there are lots of Republicans in congress to stop him. Is there any consideration of the possibility that the voters might want to have a unified government? They might want a Congress to help the guy they‘re voting for president carry out his agenda.
CILLIZZA: Keith, throughout the ‘90s and the early 2000s that divide government argument worked. People tended to like to have that balance of power. The checks and balances but in “Washington Post”/ABC we did a poll in mid-October and 50 percent said they would like the White House and Congress to be controlled by the same party and 30 percent say they would like it to be divided so I think we‘re seeing this overarching change. This desire to change the way things are done in Washington and that transcends parties in some ways and I think is really making that divided government argument a little more convoluted.
OLBERMANN: And the leadership issue, back to McConnell for a second, if he loses or if the Republicans fake big hits in both the House and the Senate or they don‘t and McConnell loses, what happens in a power vacuum, what does the Republican Party of 2010 -- never mind 2012, what does it look like in 2010?
CILLIZZA: There will likely be, if McCain loses in and if they do lose seats in the House and Senate, regardless of whether McConnell loses, I think there will be a reckoning. I think you‘re going to see younger faces emerge. I‘ll give you a name from Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, Indiana American, he is 37 years old, he is the governor of Louisiana, ran on a reform platform, my guess would be there would be a return to the roots of the Republican party in the states and you would see someone like Bobby Jindal rise but there is going to clearly be a power vacuum in this scenario happens there and there will be a lot of Republicans scrambling to fill it.
OLBERMANN: Chris Cillizza, author of “The Fix” on washingtonpost.com and a veteran of the finger puppet wars. Many thanks, Chris.
CILLIZZA: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll remember that. Back to the top of the ticket. Nothing sadder than criticizing the other guy as a wealth spreader when it turns out that you boasted that you were a wealth spreader. Tonight‘s “Campaign Comment.” And using seven-year-old tape of Obama criticizing parts of the Constitution that once kept slavery legal. Comedian Rush Limbaugh cuts out the slavery references to make it sound as if Obama hated the entire Constitution. Desperate measures ahead in “worst persons.”
OLBERMANN: Tonight‘s “Campaign Comment”, Sarah Palin has talked so much trash she‘s just accused Obama of wanting to do something she‘s already done. That‘s next but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story tonight, “Worst Person‘s in the World.” The bronze to whoever put out this flyer, the State Election Board of Virginia says voters in Hampton Roads and environs have received this document suggesting that an emergency session of the general assembly decided that to ease the load at the polling places Republicans should vote on November 4th and Democrats should vote on November 5th. There was no such emergency session. There is no second day of voting in Virginia or anywhere else. You get exactly one guess as to who would have distributed a document like that as Virginia seems to be turning Democratic. The runner up, comedian Rush Limbaugh, how the chair has not collapsed out from under him with the weight of the water he‘s trying to carry I do not know. “Obama,” says the bully of the airwaves “studied the Constitution and he flatly rejected it. He don‘t like the Constitution. He thinks it‘s flawed. Now I understand why he‘s so reluctant to wear the American flag lapel pin. I don‘t see how he can take the oath of office. He has rejected the Constitution.” Yeah. He‘s talking about the fact that Obama did a public radio interview about the history of the Constitution seven years ago in which he said, quote, “I think we can say the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in the culture that carries on until this day and the framers had the same blind spot. I don‘t think the two views are contradictory to say that it was a remarkable political document that paved the way for where we are now and it also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.” Relatively obvious that the Obama was talking about the fact that the constitution didn‘t allow African Americans to vote but it counted them each as 3/5s of a person and did not make slavery illegal. So Rush just took the part about slavery out and said Obama had rejected the entire Constitution. When you put the part about slavery back in it‘s obvious in criticizing Obama‘s analysis of what the Constitution originally did to black people here, Rush Limbaugh is defending racism and he‘s pro-slavery. But our winner, Bill O. is now coming to a slow boil over the ratings. That rant last week in which he alleged 26 A.C. Nielsen executives had contributed to Democratic candidates but only two to Republicans, so that Fox‘s recent hemorrhaging in the Nielsen ratings and our assent here must be the result of some sort of fix, has prompted a memo from the CEO of Nielsen, Susan Whiting, who notes that quote, fewer than 30 Nielsen employees made federal political contributions. Less than 0.005 percent of Nielsen U.S. employees and she also called O‘Reilly‘s remarks “inflammatory and incorrect.” We don‘t really care about this so I‘ll make it brief. We beat him again last night in what he calls the key advertising demo. A million eighty-one thousand viewers to his 938,000, the fourth time in 10 nights ours was the number one rated show in cable news and his was second or third. So, A, thank you, and, he assumes there‘s a conspiracy that somebody is fixing the ratings for MSNBC‘s benefit or for Obama or Obama is fixing them or—I don‘t really know what he means because I don‘t speak psycho. Bill O. the Clown, get the fork ready, he‘s almost done. Tonight‘s “Worst Person in the World!”
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, the “Campaign Comment” and the real danger when you run a presidential candidate who thinks he‘s Joe Sixpack the Plumber and a vice presidential candidate who thinks she is Huey Long. It‘s not that the rhetoric in a desperate flailing last week on the stump can get hyperbolic and dangerous, its that each person on that campaign hears some of the giddying, hyperbolic and dangerous rhetoric and tries to top it and it is ended up as it usually does with one of the desperate candidates going so far to the right they meet themselves coming back in the other direction. That would be you, Governor Palin. You‘ve finally done it? You accused Obama of doing something wrong of being something evil. Something you boasted of doing and being yourself almost two months ago. Try to figure out what this might have been while I go back and talk to those good people. The Republicans called Obama a neophyte and they picked a V.P. nominee with a tenth of Obama‘s experience, the Republicans called Obama a celebrity and then they bought that nominee $150,000 in designer clothes. Republicans called Obama a terrorist sympathizer and then McCain said he was proud to be a friend of Gordon Liddy. It‘s like they have ESP and have been telling their own futures and now the GOP has selected its last drum thump for the remainder of the campaign—although they said that about the last 17 last drum thumps. Obama is a socialist. Missouri Congressman Todd Akin speaking near St. Louis. “This campaign in the next couple of weeks is about one thing, it‘s a referendum on socialism.” Arizona Senator John McCain, who is apparently running for president, at Dayton, Ohio, yesterday, “The Barack, the Redistributor” and he realized that sounded like an auto part so John McCain in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, later yesterday, quote, “Senator Obama is running to be Redistributionist in Chief.” Go back to the first one. Nobody you‘re talking to even understands what socialism means, senator. Redistributionist is six syllables and it sounds like he‘s recycling newspapers or something. Be simpler, like Michelle Bachmann‘s only rival for least stable member of the House of Representatives did, Steve King, R, Iowa, Fifth District but 17th century. Warming up a crowd at a high school in Sioux City for Governor Palin on Saturday. And King who amazingly is still let out of the house each without adult supervision said of the Obama candidacy, quote, “When you take a lurch to the left you end up in a totalitarian dictatorship. There‘s no freedom to the left. It‘s always to our side of the aisle. We choose freedom and liberty.” Presumably that‘s why the congressman‘s party was good enough to torture prisoners, eavesdrop on Americans, suspend habeas corpus, demonize dissent, pay news organizations to run favorable stories and generally come close to a totalitarian dictatorship as any American president ever has, to choose freedom and liberty. For Congressman King and invited guests, not for the country. Can you tell I‘m stalling? I‘m trying to give Governor Palin a couple more seconds to figure out how she managed to get herself, as Shakespeare wrote of people destroyed by their own evil plans, “hoist with her own petard.” Got it yet, gov? OK, remember saying that Senator Obama was telling J.T. Plumber that it would help the country to share the wealth, a sentiment with which anybody not receiving $150,000 in clothes would probably agree? So you went off in Des Moines? You remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else. To everybody else. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were yours, no, they would really, collectively belong to everybody. Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax, leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us. And government is kind of moving into the role as the other half of our family, making decisions for us. Now, they do this in other countries where the people are not free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So, gov, Obama is not just a socialist? Not just a redistributionist, distributor. Maybe not just a totalitarian, maybe not just a dictator, he may be a communist? To paraphrase you in Des Moines, governor, Obama wants to set up unlike other candidates, collectively owning the resources by sharing that wealth and those resources. I mean, it‘s collectivist sharing the wealth socialist communism, I would say. And still none of that sounds familiar to you? “And Alaska, we‘re set up unlike other states in the union where it‘s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of those resources occurs.” Who said that, governor? Who was the collectivist share-the-wealther who was boasting to the reporter from the “New Yorker” magazine of having been able to send a check for $1,200 to every man, woman and child in the state since quote, “Alaska is described as a socialist state because of its ownership of resources”? Why you said that governor! You‘re the share the wealth collectivist almost socialist governor, governor. Who also believe that income, property, inventory and investments collectively belonging to everybody else leads to a misuse of power and government making decisions for us, turning countries into places where the people are not free. Places like, Sarah Palin‘s America. Governor, all sorts of choice words apply here. Hypocrite, double-talker, snake oil seller, socialist. Let me stick with one with which by you goodbye. You, governor, are a fraud. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 2,008th day since Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck. Our MSNBC coverage continues now with THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW and always a pleasure to say, good evening, Rachel.
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